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Wednesday, January 2, 2019


I think Christmas trees are so pretty! I remember Mom sitting in the living room one night with the lights off, just looking at the lighted tree and quietly thinking.  I need to do that more instead of looking at the phone, or the computer or whatever distraction is at hand.  I took this first picture with no flash and no light around the tree.
 This picture is with a flash and is my least favorite.
This is the photo I like best and I took it with no flash, but I turned on a table lamp behind the tree so light filtered through the branches.
  Epiphany is nearly here and it will be time to take the tree down again.  When I was a little kid it always made me melancholy when Mom took the tree down because Christmas was such a special season filled with expectation and wonder and I didn't want it to ever end. It is still a special time, but I think Amazon has made things too easy for me, and made it too easy to stay indoors, and away from the hustle and bustle, the lights, the excitement of shopping.  I went to Abilene shopping one day this year and by the end of the day I was not in the Christmas Spirit--too much driving, hunting for stuff I couldn't find or maybe didn't even exist, so maybe next year I need to plan a few parties at the house, invite some friends over and get in the Spirit of Christmas that way.  Anyway, I am sorry to see Christmas gone again, but now we have a new year and I am going to make resolutions and really try to work on them.  I have big plans for 2019!

Saturday, December 8, 2018


I left the house after Karen thought all the cooking was under control and took the side-by-side across the Big Dry Creek crossing and out into the pasture, about a mile and a half (maybe) from the house.  The day was overcast and cool, perfect for a branding.  The country looks so fantastic after all the rain that has blessed Garfield County.  This is a big change from the hot, windy dry conditions last year,  that were perfect for one of the biggest fires in Montana and the nation in 2017.  The Lodgepole Complex Fire burned over 270,000 acres.
The branding was underway when I got there.  These horses are hobbled and grazing.  You can see the yellow slickers tied behind the saddles just in case of rain.
Ranchers can brand anywhere thanks to portable corrals.  They just load these panels on the trailer and take them out to the pasture, set them up and go to work.  Back in the old days they had to bring the cows and calves to the permanent corrals, cut the calves out and brand in the corrals.
Heating the irons.  Gone are the wood fires for heating irons.  Propane is portable and easy to transport, and it is hot.

Maggie and Levi holding one down.  The neighbors trade work and help each other brand.  Kids get to make some money and socialize too.
Maggie isn't going to have to lift weights today after wrestling these big calves.
Dallas is getting ready to cut, Maggie on the hind legs, Levi on the front, Jay Terrett branding. In the back is Joe Gibson, Jerome Chvilcek, Colin Murnion roping.

In the background is Scotty Arnold, Taylor Midland, Emma Weder, with black hat, Jason Phipps, Jerome, Kelly Murnion.  Joe Gibson is cutting, Caleb Kukowski sitting on the front, Layne Murnion on the hind legs, John Wolenburg, Kary Phipps.

Levi Mydland on the hind legs, Kelly Murnion on the front, Dallas Currey, Maggie and Jay Terrett.

There are three sets of wrestlers, and three ropers working at all times.  This crew works like a well oiled machine.  It is just amazing to watch.  Everyone and I mean everyone knows how to do their job and they know exactly when to do it. Notice that Kacy is putting the nasalgen into the calf's nose, while Kelly has the head held still.
John Wollenburg adjusting the irons, Cowboy is watching.
Graham Weder.
Caleb getting set on the front end.
Joe Gibson cutting and John W. is branding.
Joe Gibson is cutting.
Dallas Curry getting the tag ready; Colin Murnion going in to rope; Levi getting set on the hind legs, Emma Weder sitting on the front end and Kacy bringing the nasalgen, Jerome and Scotty are going to do something.
Kary Phipps vaccinating, Caleb holding the front leg.
DeWayne Murnion roping. Scotty, Kary, Sam Phipps, and Jerome over by the pickup.
Maggie getting ready to hold the hind legs and Layne Murnion taking the front.  Joe Gibson, Scotty Arnold, Kary Phipps, and Sam Phipps in the back ground.

Maggie, Joe Gibson, Layne Murnion.
Colin Murnion roping, Maggie and Layne Murnion getting ready for the next calf.
Kelly Murnion going for the back end; Caleb on the front. Kary, Joe, Sam, Dallas, Jerome, Kacy, and Jason in the background.
Kelly Murnion.
Scotty is cutting.
This is the whole process.
Finishing up and later all these calf nuts will be fixed up for a oyster fest at Jersey Lilly in Ingomar.
DeWayne Murnion.
Conner Murnion on the front, and Levi holding the back legs.
Chantal Penner roping.
Jerome and Scotty.
Chantal Penner pulling one in.
Chantal is from Germany originally, but is a real cowgirl and top hand.  She is a citizen of the U.S.
Cowboy pointing something out.

Emma Weder getting ready to rope and DeWayne Murnion standing by.

Cowboy, John Wollenburg, DeWayne Murnion and Colin Murnion telling stories.
Emma Weder pulling a calf in for the wrestlers.

Levi, Kelly and Layne resting.  You can see the trailer for the portable corral panels.
Kacy is the girl in charge of Nasalgen, and she is good at it.  It is amazing how these kids get right in there, just at the right moment and do what they need to do, and they are never in the way.
Kacy at work.
Levi and Maggie working together.
Cowboy and Colin telling stories, and meantime the irons are heating.

Chantal is going to put the ear tag in at just the right moment.
Tagging the ear.
It is very important to hold the head and back legs down, because these critters can really hurt wrestlers if a hind leg gets loose and it is impossible the hold the hind legs if the calf gets his head loose.

Layne making a loop.
Joe getting ready to rope.
Getting his loop ready.
Taylor is going to rope a little.
Hats!  All styles of hats.  The younger kids like the buckaroo style with the low crown.
This how to throw a calf.  The ropers always heel the calves.  Levi pulls the tail to throw the calf and he will hold the front of the calf down.
The day was cool, humid and still.  The smoke hung in the air.
Emma, Taylor, and Jay are roping.

Joe pulling a calf in.  Caleb is getting ready to throw the calf.

Maggie and Levi will hold this one down.
Graham Weder.

Taylor Mydland.

Jay Terrett
Emma Weder

Very little wind, moist air, lots of smoke.

Graham Weder and Conner Murnion getting set up.

Graham Weder and Conner Murnion
Conner Murnion

Sam Phipps

Graham Weder
Switchback brand.

Chantal is about to tag the ear.


Colin and DeWayne

Real cowboys--DeWayne, Cowboy, Dallas, and Joe.
The girls are giving Scotty a hard time about being Mr. November.  One of them caught him with his shirt off fighting fire so ever since then he has been Mr. November.
Scotty is good natured about his new title.
More stories.

Kacy is ready!
Kary Phipps
Sam Phipps
Kary and Emma
Layne and Jerome

Kary pulling one in.

After all the calves were branded, everyone rode to the house and had dinner.  That's how a days work is in Montana.